International Network for the Availability
of Scientific Publications

Newsletter

INASP Newsletter No. 29, July 2005

 

African Journals OnLine (AJOL) 
www.ajol.info 

By Sioux Cumming

AJOL has reached a critical stage in its development as preparations are made for the move to African management by NISC SA. It is therefore appropriate at this juncture to step back and consider the development of the service from its humble beginnings in 1998.

The pilot project began with only ten journals displaying their tables of contents and contact information on a website managed by INASP. The intention was to promote the awareness and use of African-published journals in the sciences. An evaluation at the end of 1999 confirmed that it was providing a useful service, and recommended further expansion.

By the end of 2000, there were 50 English language African-published journals in agricultural sciences, science and technology, health and social sciences. A keyword search and a photocopy document service were also introduced for all titles. Although initial growth was slow, by the end of 2003 there were 175 journals from 21 African countries. The next major milestone was the commissioning of the new AJOL database in March 2004 to increase the functionality of the site and to ensure compatibility with other Internet research services. All AJOL content is now indexed through the Open Archives Initiative search engines and this has given the journals greater visibility among the worldwide research community

The AJOL database was developed using the open-source journal management software called Open Journal Systems (OJS) which was developed by the Public Knowledge Project at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Working collaboratively with this organisation, and the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT), University of Bristol (UK), AJOL has been able to create a high quality website with greatly enhanced functionality.

AJOL has continued to grow and there are now more than 1,500 tables of contents and over 18,000 articles on the site and the average monthly page requests is increasing dramatically – from 7,000 in May 2004 to almost 30,000 by May 2005.

More than 3,000 people registered to use the service in 2005 – not only from Africa, but from all around the world – and of these almost half have signed up to receive an Email alert when new issues are published.

Ten of the journals have over 200 users signed up for these alerts and one has over 300: this has been one of the most exciting new developments which creates awareness, closer contact between journals and readers and serves to regularly draw readers back to the site.

The number of document deliveries also increased dramatically during 2004 and it looks as if this upward trend will continue into 2005 with an expectation of providing almost 3000 articles this year.

Another new development introduced during the last year was the ability of individual journals to load their own content – including full text – and treat their space on AJOL as their own publication site. Over 17 journals are now managing their own space on AJOL, and there is already one journal in full text, and others experimenting with selected articles and issues.

AJOL has become firmly established, and new journals apply to join on a daily basis. It is an opportune time for new management to take the initiative over, and for AJOL to move to full African ownership. Although we are sorry to lose our daily involvement with this project, we know it will continue to be a successful tool for African journals, and we will certainly stay involved and committed to its success.

Sioux Cumming

INASP, Oxford, UK
Email:

 

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An African Vision for African Journals OnLine (AJOL)

by Margaret Crampton

In March 2005, NISC SA were appointed to take over management of AJOL from INASP, so that the service would be fully managed and owned within the continent.

NISC is delighted to be appointed to manage African Journals OnLine (AJOL) and is pleased and proud to be part of the AJOL programme. We look forward to engaging with the African academic publishing community to grow AJOL in scope and functionality to serve both users and producers of African research. The ethos of AJOL, as a service to promote and make accessible African-published research, exactly fits the mandate of our organisation — the promotion of African research worldwide.

National Inquiry Services Centre (NISC SA) opened in Grahamstown, South Africa in May 1995, out of a realisation of the need in Africa for indigenous information and a local service, and has since developed and grown into a local and global information provider. NISC is an academic publisher of bibliographic databases and journals and is the recipient of several awards – notable of which was the 2003 award from the SA Minister of Science and Technology for ‘The Most Outstanding Women’s Technology Company in South Africa’.

AJOL is currently being registered in South Africa as an independent not-for-profit company and will work alongside NISC. We intend to build and develop AJOL in the spirit in which it was initiated, and are committed to developing its sustainability, accessibility and usefulness worldwide to allow AJOL to reach its full potential.

Our vision for AJOL

The future for academic journals, and for timely and relevant research, lies in the accessibility of peer reviewed articles. The Internet promotes interconnectedness from bibliographic database records, article references and abstracts to their full text equivalents. NISC specialises in the aggregation of bibliographic databases with full text linking and sees AJOL as an important addition to the archive of African research.

Every journal on AJOL has a unique situation and each one must be financially sustainable. AJOL cannot undermine this independence and must support this and help in the generation of a revenue stream for ongoing journal publication where this is needed. Thus the AJOL model needs to be flexible, adaptable and respectful of the individual requirements of its participating journal publishers whilst also achieving its vision of making the content visible to the world.

AJOL must be easily accessible to individuals and organisations in both developed and developing countries, and the content, functionality, software and ‘look and feel’ of AJOL must be continually developed. AJOL will remain a high quality, state of the art, current, appealing, useful and user friendly service and ultimately we trust that it will become a ‘must have’ research resource.

There are many areas in which AJOL can develop in the future, and ideas that we have workshopped include such things as:

• the addition of new journals in an ongoing fashion

• the promotion of full text of AJOL articles online

• website development to serve publishers and users alike

• the development of an offline system for publishers to post their content via Email

• keyword indexing of articles to enhance search and retrieval

• linking of article references and abstracts on database collections and publisher websites to their full text on AJOL

• counter compliant user statistics

• the development of a DVD version of AJOL for those with poor connectivity

• the maintenance of a Listserv for AJOL stakeholders

• subscription models and functionality to serve publishers and users alike.

Implementation of some (or all!) of these plans will take time, and for the immediate future our priority is to maintain, grow and develop the service in close collaboration with INASP and the participating editors and publishers. Together, into the future, we plan to develop a major information resource to serve the needs of those requiring access to the research output of this continent.

AJOL and NISC will work together to support NEPAD (the New Partnership for African Development) by promoting access to the research output of the continent. We trust that this will promote research collaboration on the African continent and help to fulfil our need for mutual understanding, peace and for a better life for all.

Margaret Crampton

Managing Director of NISC SA and AJOL
Email:
Web: www.nisc.co.za  and www.ajol.info 

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An African E-Journal

by Nyerhovwo J.Tonukari

One of the motivating factors that led to the establishment of the African Journal of Biotechnology AJB, www.academicjournals.org/AJB – was to have an international journal that publicised the current research going on in African countries.

The vast majority of journals published in Africa today are languishing in obscurity because they are not known outside their institutions or region. Many journals published in Ghana, for example, cannot be found in universities or research institutions in Kenya. Furthermore, African researchers often lack access to foreign journals as most of the universities’ libraries cannot afford to buy these journals anymore. On the other hand, the scarcity of African journals in the libraries of the developed countries or on the Internet makes it difficult for anyone outside Africa to find information on some issues peculiar to the continent.

None of us who started AJB had previous editorial experience in a normal print journal; neither did we have any idea initially of how to start an e-journal. For economic reasons an e-journal appeared to be the best option since we all had computers and Internet access.

Although we agonised whether African researchers and lecturers would be able to access and download articles from the Internet, our calculation was that there will be increasing access to the Internet with time. My trip to Kenya changed my views about Internet access in Africa. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many cyber cafes where anyone can go online for a fee.

So with less than a $100 to register and host the website initially, AJB was born. AJB receives manuscripts as Email attachments and uses only Email to contact authors and reviewers. Even proofs are sent as Email attachments. Currently, there are 6 computers (3 desktops and 3 laptops) in the AJB office with Microsoft and Adobe software to handle all these mails and other formatting. We also have a printer and scanner. We earlier used students and part time staff, but there are now five regular support staff and one web consultant in the Editorial Office. This has curbed staff turnover (due to low wages) which plagued the journal for more than a year.

Our initial goal is was to publish 2 to 4 papers per month. However, we have become victims of our own success. Because of the initial speed of publication, we now receive too many manuscripts. In 2002, we published an average of 6 papers per month which has now increased to 15 in 2005. AJB is a free access journal and everyone with access to the Internet can read and download the full articles for free as soon as they are published.

So as not to be too dependent on foreign donors, government or research/academic associations like other African journals, we charge authors a modest handling fee, and 80% of it can be waived for most authors from sub-Saharan Africa. Even after 2 years, it is still difficult to convince many authors that it costs money to publish a peer reviewed and well formatted online journal. Total handling fees received for 2003 and 2004 were about $3,800 and $8,700, respectively, and the numbers of paying authors have improved from 20% in 2002 to 45% in the first quarter of 2005.

To date, AJB has not requested nor received any funding. We still have not reached any agreement whether or not to apply for funding. But we are very proud to be a self-sustaining journal. The biggest challenge for us at AJB is still Internet access. Unlike in western countries, it costs quite a lot to have constant Internet access in most African countries. Since we cannot afford our own direct Internet access, we have convinced a cyber cafe to extend their connections (for which we pay monthly) to adjacent offices which we rent. That is the best we can do for now.

On the brighter side, AJB has now become so popular thanks to the Internet. Authors publishing in AJB are happy that their articles will receive the widest audience. AJB also publishes articles from countries outside of Africa so as to enrich its contents and expose African readers to research going on in other parts of the world. The ‘hits’ on the website have increased from less than 1000 per day in July 2003 to about 4000 in May 2005.

The most important requirement in starting an online journal is access to the Internet and some knowledge of computers. Most software is easy to use and affordable. Money is not a limitation, but commitment from the editors cannot be overemphasised. It is nearly impossible for print-only journals to compete with online journals because of the speed of publication. Although more than 95% of authors now understand and appreciate the online (only) model of AJB, we still get inquiries from time to time for print copies. Several authors and some libraries have indicated their interest to pay for the print copies. Maybe in the future, we may print the issues.

Because of its online model, AJB editors and reviewers can be located anywhere in the world as long as they have Internet access. We are quite optimistic about AJB’s future and we are working hard and also reinvesting its meagre revenue to make it Africa’s premier journal. Having access to AJB’s full text articles and especially the reviews has been a boon to lecturers and researchers in Africa. We are quite pleased when they inform us that they are using AJB materials in their class notes and research. AJB cited papers can easily be found even from popular search engines like Yahoo, Google and MSN. Currently, there are several hundreds of university libraries, research institutes and other websites linking to the AJB’s website. We are humbled by the patronage and trust.

Nyerhovwo J.Tonukari

Editor, African Journal of Biotechnology
Web: www.academicjournals.org/AJB 
Email:

 

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TEEAL Update

This summer TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) is introducing a new local area network version. TEEAL is a complete collection of agricultural journals with abstracts and full text articles. Formerly available only on compact disc, now researchers and students will be able to access articles from the convenience of a networked computer. Just click on a link and the article appears — no compact discs to insert, no Internet, and no waiting. LanTEEAL contains 114 journals from the original TEEAL collection selected by a panel of 600 international scientists as the most relevant to research being carried out in the developing world (visit the TEEAL website for a list of titles: www.teeal.org).

LanTEEAL is available for $3,500USD* and includes the 1993-2003 literature. Annual updates cost $1,000 USD each. The 2004 update will be available this December.

Additionally, prices are plummeting on the compact disc TEEAL collection of 140 journals. The 1993-2003 CD set can be purchased for just $5000 USD – over 2.2 million pages of journal literature valued at about $1 million in developed nations. Annual updates on CD are available for $700 to $1000 each. The 2004 update will be ready this December.

TEEAL is a project of Cornell University’s A R Mann Library and over 60 publishers, with the ongoing support of the Rockefeller Foundation. Contact TEEAL for more information, at: teeal@cornell.edu

Nicole Joos
TEEAL Project Manager
*Discounts on LanTEEAL available to subscribers with the compact disc version of TEEAL (valid until Dec 2005).

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Greater Access to Research in Cameroon’s Universities

by Kiven Charles Wirsiy and Rosemary M. Shafack

This article summarises the results of a survey conducted in Cameroon in 2001-2002. The survey drew inspiration from how much of the attention paid to the digital divide was ignoring the knowledge gap between developed and developing countries. We sought to investigate the relationship between the Internet infrastructure in Cameroon and the knowledge gap affecting the availability of research literature there.

We surveyed 91 Faculty, librarians and students in six of Cameroon Universities, to determine the level of access to research literature through the Internet. The consensus among respondents was that, although still at a developing stage, the Internet is a promising source of research literature that may be able to reduce, to some small degree, the knowledge gap in Cameroon and other developing countries at a time when print research information resources have been declining over the years.

The increasing availability of free-to read research in Africa made available through initiatives such as HINARI, AGORA, PERI (including African Journals OnLine – AJOL), as well as by individual Open Access journals and authors self-archiving their publishing work, means the Cameroonian University community and those of other developing countries can access the research literature far more easily and cheaply with viable Internet facilities.

Although in 2001–2002 the availability of Internet access was still scarce and relatively expensive, the University community in Cameroon had already realised the advantages easy access could have in their academic and research activities. For some, the importance of Internet access was to provide access to up-to-date research findings and thus enable them to catch up with their counterparts in other parts of the world: for others the importance was in being able to get information resources so that they could perform better in their teaching, learning and research endeavours.

The Faculty and researchers also indicated that easy access to the Internet would also enable them to find suitable journals in which to publish their research findings and thus give their own scholarship a worldwide exposure. Many were able to name titles which they looked forward to being able to access.

In conclusion it was posited that without greater access to academic and research resources through the Internet at this time, it is difficult to deliver and participate in university education. The Cameroonian University community has a right to take advantage of free to read electronic resources by having the necessary Internet connectivity, the hardware and software to enable them make maximum use of these academic resources.

Between 2002 and 2005, the situation of connectivity has improved enormously, especially with increasing availability of broadband connectivity through V-SAT technology.

Cameroon’s Universities in the past 3 years have realised the importance of Internet access to their faculty and students and are putting in place the necessary infrastructures and equipment to take advantage of the new information and communication technologies. In a recent visit to the six Universities under study, it was discovered that virtually all the Universities have on-campus Internet access either in libraries, faculty offices and/or in Information Technology Centres and media resources centres. The access – although at times limited by the bandwidth and equipment breakdown – is an enormous amelioration of the Internet access situation of 2001–2002. More still has to be done especially in the area of provision of broadband and more ergonomic hardware to give greater access to these Internet resources.

All of this places increasing emphasis on the access question and what academic and research literature is free to read online in the form of full-text journal articles, books, and other sorts of electronic archives. What is critical at this point is greater faculty and scholarly society awareness of how important Open Access to research and scholarship is to Universities in Cameroon and elsewhere. What needs to follow are for faculty members everywhere to find ways of supporting this greater knowledge exchange on a global scale by ensuring that their work is publicly available, as a first step in advancing this exchange.

The full survey results can be read in Willinsky, John, Randall, Jonas, Kiven Charles Wirsiy and Rosemary M. Shafack (2005). Access to Research in Cameroonian Universities. Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries, 21. www.is.cityu.edu.hk/research/ ejisdc/vol21/v21r2.pdf

Kiven Charles Wirsiy

Senior Librarian at the University of Buea, Cameroon
Email:

Rosemary M. Shafack

Acting University Librarian at the University of Buea
Email:

 

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Connectivity in African Tertiary Institutions – The ATICS survey

by Roy Steiner, Nyasha Tirivayi, Mike Jensen, Karanja Gakio

The African Tertiary Institutions Connectivity Survey (ATICS) website is an African Virtual University (AVU) initiative aimed at enhancing connectivity in Africa’s tertiary sector. The AVU supported a survey of Internet connectivity needs in tertiary institutions across Africa completed late in 2004. The survey collected information from 83 institutions, representing 40 countries in Africa. The following summarises the findings of this survey.

Key findings

Bandwidth type

(i) The majority of the sampled universities use terrestrial based leased lines for connectivity purposes with satellite (VSAT) coming closely in second place. Unfortunately, over 7% rely on dial up connections for their Internet connectivity. (ii) Only 48% of institutions surveyed had access to international fibre.

Bandwidth availability

(i) The average bandwidth reported for the sample is 537/769 Kbps – roughly equivalent to a broadband residential connection in North America or Europe. (ii) Institutions with fibre connection tend to have the highest connectivity, while dial up connections have the lowest capacity. (iii) Underlining the demand for bandwidth amongst most institutions, the average time where links are at 100% capacity is over 60%. This is extremely high, as this is measured over 24 hours a day.

Bandwidth costs

(i) The highest bandwidth cost is being paid by Université de Yaounde of Cameroon. Some institutions are paying very little (or even nothing) because of subsidies. (ii) VSAT companies, followed by national telecoms, are charging the highest prices per Kbps, while donor initiatives and academic networks charge the least. (iii) The greater the volume of bandwidth being purchased the lower the marginal cost of that bandwidth. This fact also strongly underlines the argument for bandwidth buying consortiums for African tertiary institutions. (iv) None of the respondents gave a negative response to the idea of joining a bandwidth purchasing consortium, and the majority are clearly willing to join such a consortium. (v) Regionally, institutions from West Africa are paying the highest amount of US$8/Kbps while institutions from North Africa are paying only US$0.52/Kbps.

Bandwidth quality

(i) 66% of the institutions surveyed reported either that they did not have a Committed Information Rate (CIR) for their connectivity or did not know what a CIR was. (ii) Institutions where the respondent claimed not to know if they had a CIR or not are paying the most for their bandwidth, while those who are part of a consortium and have the highest quality of bandwidth get the lowest cost. This dramatically shows the power of knowledge and volume in bandwidth purchasing decisions.

Bandwidth utilisation

(i) There are large differences in levels of computer access among the institutions. The highest number of users per computer is 929. The average across the sample is 55, however, even 11 users (southern Africa average) per networked computer is a high ratio compared to the average students per networked computer ratio of USA institutions, which is thought to be about 5. (ii) Campus networks are present in 97% of the institutions. (iii) The highest average bandwidth (regionally) per networked computer was in North Africa while the lowest was in Southern Africa (probably the result of more computers within institutions without adequate bandwidth). Central Africa has a relatively high bandwidth per network computer – primarily because there are so few computers at the institutions surveyed.

Bandwidth management

(i) The majority of the respondents (59%) reported that they did not practice bandwidth management, indicating a critical need for skills training. Improving bandwidth management is probably the easiest way to improve the quantity and quality of bandwidth for educational purposes. (ii) Although 51% indicate that they monitor their bandwidth, only five of the universities could provide basic usage figures, indicating that monitoring is sporadic. (iii) VSATs have a higher rate of failure than other links, with fibre having the lowest rate of failure. It appears that electricity cuts affect VSAT and wire most.

Bandwidth and ICT initiatives

(i) Many of the tertiary institutions surveyed are planning to implement various ICT initiatives. A substantial number said they were planning to expand or establish campus networks, but only 45% have a written e-learning/IT strategy. (ii) Only 8 countries currently have National Educational & Research Networks, and only 22% of the institutions surveyed are members of these networks.

Recommendations

The state of Internet connectivity in tertiary institutions in Africa can be summarised by three characteristics – too little, too expensive and poorly managed. From this survey the following recommendations are suggested:

1. Formation of bandwidth buying consortium.

2. Improved bandwidth management.

3. Centralised network management and technical capacity.

4. Improved regulatory policies regarding educational bandwidth.

Full report: www.atics.info/ATICS2004Report.pdf . Website: www.atics.info 

Roy Steiner

Email:

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Viewpoint: The digital divide continues

by Denise Nicholson

Digital technology has created an explosion of information in the First World dimension of South Africa and in metropolitan areas of other African countries. Commerce and some areas of education have been revolutionised. However, high costs of equipment, networking, limited bandwidth and maintenance still hamper the educational process. In addition, restrictive licences, high costs of electronic information, copyright and technological protection mechanisms restrict access to information, thus reserving knowledge for the elite only.

In the digital environment, contract law overrides copyright law and erodes users’ rights. WIPO and IFLA state that digital is not different, then why do rights-owners constantly find new ways to restrict access to electronic material? And why has WIPO proposed a Webcasting Treaty which will create more restrictions, even over public domain material?

It is said that ‘the world becomes a stage – if one has access to a computer!’ Alas, this does not apply to millions of Africans who do not have access to a telephone or electricity, never mind a computer! Education is seriously affected because of this – for example the Register of Needs Survey undertaken by the South African Department of Education in 2000 reported that 46% of schools did not have any electricity and only 12.3% had computers for teaching and learning. Current studies report that only 7% of South Africans have access to the Internet [1]. Apart from low general literacy levels, computer literacy levels are also low, and the statistics are far lower in the rest of Africa.

Technology is advancing at such a rate that the ‘digital - rather information – divide’ continues to widen. Most consumers in developing countries lack the IT maturity levels and training to utilise ICTs effectively. In many instances, technology transfer and ICT projects just increase dependency on advanced countries. Technological activity consists mainly of learning to use, maintain, sustain and advance imported technologies, rather than innovating and encouraging independence on the technological frontier [2].

Proprietary software has become too expensive and most African countries cannot pay for, or sustain the licences. Large international proprietary software corporations are cleverly entrenching their products in Africa by making large donations of software and equipment to poor communities. However, they are not providing the financial resources and adequate infrastructure to maintain the licences or to update the software and hardware in the long term. This ultimately ties those countries to their products for ever after. Maintenance of proprietary licences creates a huge financial burden on developing countries.

The IT industry in South Africa has realised that unless it makes its knowledge base more accessible in the public domain, it will collapse. No longer is ignorance commercially viable. Without informed consumers, there is no sustainable future for the industry. It has therefore initiated a project based at the University of the Witwatersrand and supported by the City of Johannesburg in partnership with Government and ICT Industry. It has established a Centre for Software Engineering to draw on well-established academic and research programmes at the University and will provide the focal point of a software development cluster.

The Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) aims to:

• promote best practice in software development within an African context;

• grow South Africa’s capacity to deliver world class software; and

• develop research and training initiatives to strengthen the local software development industry. Further information can be found at their website www.wits.ac.za/depts/wcs/jcse .

This is a positive move in the application of ICTs in the context of a developing country. There are various ICT projects in South Africa and in other parts of Africa, some of which have been successful, but with the continuous new developments in technology, they are nowhere near addressing the major ‘digital divide’.

References

1. The Goldstuck Report: Internet Access in South Africa 2004 (Executive Summary). World Wide Worx (Pty) Ltd. (arthurg@internet.org.za) (The OCLC environmental scan (2003) also listed 7% of South Africans as internet users.)

2. Lall. S. and Albaladejo, M. Indicators of the relative importance of IPR’s in developing countries. Working document 2002. No. 85. Retrieved 9.06.2005 www2.qeh.ox.ac.uk/RePEc/qeh/qehwps/qehwps85.pdf

Denise Nicholson

Copyright Services Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Email:


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APNET launches a new website

The African Publishers Network, established in 1992, brings together national publishers associations and publishing communities to strengthen indigenous publishing throughout Africa. APNET is a pan-African, non-profit making network with a Secretariat in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

APNET now has membership of 47 countries. APNET provides a variety of services to African publishers and they have now updated their website to make it easier to use — please visit us at www.apnet.org 

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Electronic Networks: Experience from Mexico

by Gabriela Romo

Networks are emerging as an important avenue to help NGOs meet the challenges they face. The main goal is to learn from each other’s practical experiences (good and bad) and a network may serve its members in different ways, e.g. to convene meetings and engage support, or to provide a learning forum. In both cases, belonging to the network enables them to learn more.

However, the experience of the Gulf of California Learning Network (GCLN) comprised by 29 organisations throughout this region in Mexico illustrates some barriers that often are not taken into account when setting up networks.

Different degrees of organisational Maturity

The more established organisations are interested in having the network as a tool for influencing broader policy issues external to themselves. The smaller and newer organisations tend to be more inwardly focused and interested in developing and improving their own management tools. These differences have an impact on what is contributed to the network and on difficulties in setting a pace in organisational learning.

Power relationships

Large organisations have self-confident staff that tend to dominate the smaller organisations, particularly those with shy people. They also tend to provide the majority of the content of the network, and to set the agenda and thus the direction of the network. Domination by a certain group of organisations and/or individuals serves to marginalise others and create an elite group.

Centralisation of information

Information that is centralised by the manager of the network creates dependency within its members, and if the contact person of an organisation is also centralising the flows of information to the organisation, that organisation may even die in the eyes of the network because no one else feels they have the authority or knowledge to convene meetings or start activities.

Competition and fear

Although participant organisations understand that to learn it is necessary to recognise mistakes, in practice few are either open to recognising their mistakes or willing to share them with others – particularly when experiences are posted on the web. One of the reasons found was that such exposure was felt to have negative consequences on funding.

Lack of infrastructure

In the GCLN there was an assumption that all NGOs participating had an appropriate and homogenous level of infrastructure in their organisations. However, it was discovered that 20% of the organisations do not have full access to computers at work and 30% have low speed connectivity. This led to some organisations feeling excluded, frustrated and marginalised.

Cultural barrier of electronic communication

Several of the network participants claimed that electronic communications were impersonal and not sufficient to facilitate effective knowledge sharing. It was found necessary to complement virtual exchanges with regular face-to-face meetings to minimise this barrier. It was felt that face-to-face communication provides the necessary environment of trust and confidence.

Unprocessed Information

When NGOs in the GCLN were asked to share their knowledge, it was difficult to get documented and processed knowledge rather than raw information. In some cases, lessons relevant to their work were hidden and kept in ‘donor-seeking jargon’.

Issue of resources

The generous approach taken by the GCLN has contributed to a lack of commitment to the network on the part of the participating organisations, risking the long-term sustainability of the initiative.

E-networks provide great opportunities for NGOs to engage in mutual learning and collaboration in a cost-effective way. At the same time, it is critical that these networks are well managed. These – and not the introduction of the technologies themselves – are the real challenges facing electronic networks. NGOs have a great opportunity to influence and form part of greater processes for development – how they respond to these will determine the future of the societies in developing countries.

This is a summary of ‘Information And Communication Technologies And Non-Governmental Organisations: Lessons Learnt From Networking In Mexico’, published in The Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries, www.ejisdc.org 

Gabriela Romo
Email:


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Bioline International

www.bioline.org.br 

A not-for-profit electronic publishing service committed to providing open access to quality research journals published in developing countries. With full text peerreviewed journals from Brazil, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more to come, the site provides a unique service by making bioscience information generated in these countries available to the international research community worldwide.

To contact us, please Email:

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PERI Mid-term Review 2004

by Sara Gwynn

During 1999/2000 INASP was asked by research partners and librarians from developing and transitional countries for assistance in information production, access and dissemination utilising information and communication technologies (ICTs). Following significant consultation, the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) was created.

After three years of PERI activity, a review was undertaken. The review took a participatory, capacity strengthening approach and was designed and implemented by key stakeholders, including programme implementers, participants and funders. It considered five key aspects of the programme.

1. Relevance: the overwhelming impression was that PERI-enabled access to international electronic resources, support for local publishing and locally published journals and training is very relevant and is addressing the needs of stakeholders.

2. Usage: the review found that there has been significant use of services and resources via PERI, with researchers downloading hundreds of thousands of articles from scholarly journals, extensive use of the AJOL service, and delivery of over 60 training modules in over 20 countries. However, this use varied widely between and within countries and even within individual institutions and departments.

3. Management: although PERI’s management structure has allowed the programme to develop significantly over the first three years and has led to a great deal of activity in the countries involved, several suggestions for improvement arose during the review (see below).

4. Sharing: feedback indicated that useful sharing of experience and knowledge is happening but in a mostly informal, unsystematic way and that this could be improved.

5. Sustainability: although it is early days for PERI, some countries within the programme have made significant steps towards sustaining their access to the international resources and training activities. However, there is still a long way to go before any of the countries becomes fully self-sustaining.

As well as confirming that the programme was relevant and useful to stakeholders, the review team were pleased that the review also generated positive recommendations for improving PERI during it’s next phase (2005–2008). Over twenty recommendations emerged, which fall broadly into five categories:

• effectively embedding PERI within its wider community by strengthening links with policy makers, end users and complementary initiatives;

• sharing of clearer documentation on the planning, implementation and evaluation of the programme;

• increasing use of PERI services and resources;

• improving programme monitoring and evaluation;

• supporting progress towards sustainability of activities currently supported via PERI.

As a Director of Postgraduate Research observed: ‘Services emerged out of a genuine need, that need is there and it is being met. That must be made clear. But you have made a problem for yourselves by creating more demand.’ It is a challenge that we are looking forward to addressing in the coming months and years. The recommendations have now been prioritised by PERI Country Coordinators and INASP staff and actions are being taken to implement them.

A copy of the entire review and an 4-page executive summary can be found in INASP’s website: www.inasp.info/pubs/PERIreview05.html 

Sara Gwynn
PERI Coordinator
Email:

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News

Resource for librarians: Digitization & Digital Libraries

The IMARK module ‘Digitization & Digital Libraries’ was developed jointly between FAO and UNESCO with the support of the National Centre for Science Information (NCSI) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC). This module is intended to train librarians and other information specialists in the conceptual and practical bases for the digitisation of collections, and in the creation and provision of access to digital libraries. It also uses and builds upon topics from the IMARK module ‘Management of Electronic Documents’.

The Module is delivered on CDROM and is available in English. The Spanish and French versions are in development as well as the web-based version. To request a copy visit the website www.fao.org/IMARK 

A Practical Guide to Bookselling

Edited by Oluronke Orimalade and Bridget Impey

Published jointly by INASP and CTA, Netherlands, this book provides guidance on establishing and running a successful bookselling business, and is designed to be a resource for both existing and new booksellers. It covers subjects such as starting a business, planning the business, managing both stock and staff, and how to develop new strategies for success. Available in print only, in either French or English, see www.inasp.info/pubs 

Towards the Digital Library: Findings of an investigation to establish the current status of university libraries in Africa

In 2004 INASP commissioned a survey of the current status of digital libraries in sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa. The results have now been published, both in full text and summary formats.

The report examines the progress that has been made by university libraries in Africa in introducing electronic systems and services and suggests where developments and investments might now be made to further advance the implementation of digital libraries. Although the survey data is confined to sub- Saharan Anglophone Africa (not South Africa), it is hoped that many of the results are also relevant to other African countries and the developing world in general. The term digital library is used to refer to a library where some or all of the holdings are available in electronic form, and the services of the library are also made available electronically frequently over the Internet.

One conclusion is that university libraries in Africa are at very different stages of digital development, with very different needs. Programmes that assume that all libraries within a region or country have the same needs and aspirations are unlikely to be successful. It is important to recognise that a library must also have the basic building blocks of a digital library in place before it can move forward into providing electronic services. Training of library staff remains key, but there is a call for training methods to be diversified and new emphasis placed on ensuring that the curricula and teaching in library schools has kept pace with the new digital environment. User education remains a challenge. Finally, librarians say that they lack advice as to where to go next. Mechanisms for sharing in-country experiences or driving forward digital developments are not widely available.

The contents and action points of the report will be covered in more detail in the autumn 2005 issue of the Newsletter, which will have digital libraries as its theme.

Full report (30pp) and summary report (4pp) available for free download from www.inasp.info/pubs/  Print copies can be ordered by Emailing

Eldis/HRC Health Resource Guide: new key issues guide on maternal, newborn and child health

Policy tensions exist between maternal health and child health, and between clinical and community-based approaches. Who matters most – the mother or the child? Is skilled care the only answer and what happens while coverage is still low? These conflicts are explored in a new Key Issues page now available on the HRC/Eldis Health Resource Guide. This clear and concise guide outlines the key policy debates, and examines what action is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on maternal and child health. Written by experts in the field, the guide can be accessed at www.eldis.org/health/MNCH.htm 

New updates to the INASP Health Links Gateway

www.inasp.info/health/links 

• For most of the ‘specific health resources’ pages listed on the table of contents, we have added ‘PubMed - Free Fulltext Articles on’ searches. These searches identify and link to all free full text e-journal articles for the specific subject within the PubMed database.

• A new dental health page that contains links to relevant information in this discipline www.inasp.info/health/links/ dental.html

• Links to two invaluable clinical tools: Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist. Both contain invaluable clinical information for the nonphysician environment and are available in English and Spanish.

INASP publishing resources

These are available from the INASP website – www.inasp.info/psi/resources 

New resources include:

Consensus Statement on Good Editorial Practice. Developed jointly with Index Copernicus, this document provides a tool for evaluating a journal to ensure that it complies with internationally-accepted standards in terms of presentation and format of content.

How to write a good scientific paper. Written by Kumar Mainaili, from the Himalayan Journal of Science this paper provides a concise guideline on how to structure a scientific paper for journal publication.

How to publish your research work. Written jointly by James Falaiye (African Journal of Reproductive Health) and Pippa Smart (INASP), this provides guidance for authors on the selection, submission and publication of journal papers, and tells them what to expect from the process.

Obituary

Dr T B Rajashekar

Dr Tarikere Basappa Rajashekar, who was the Associate Chairman of the National Centre for Science Information (NCSI) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, was killed in a road accident near Bangalore on 3 June 2005. Raja’s role in the creation of the Nation’s first computerised current awareness service in the early 1980s at NCSI is commendable. He had an exemplary skill in programming and an innate ability to understand, apply and disseminate newer programming paradigms to stay current all the time. Notable achievements included setting up India’s first interoperable institutional open access archive, and at the time of his tragic death there were more than 2,000 papers in the archive, and he had conducted many training programmes on setting up open access archives elsewhere in India.

Raja was on many committees, including the CODATA, and had contributed to the development of INFLIBNET and INDEST. He was also elected Fellow of the Society of Information Science (India).

When he was on course to achieve much more, fate has snatched him away from us. Once he remarked to his students, what mattered in life was what one left behind for others to remember and continue. By that yardstick he has done extremely well.

Subbiah Arunachalam and N. Balakrishnan

Two new biographies now freely available online

The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access

Journals presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the Open Access movement's efforts to provide free access to and unfettered use of scholarly literature. See http://info.lib.uh.edu/cwb/oab.pdf 

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography

This selective bibliography presents over 2,275 articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet. See http://info.lib.uh.edu/sepb/sepb.html  or http://info.lib.uh.edu/sepb/sepb.pdf 

INASP Infobriefs

INASP Infobriefs are a series of short (4pp) reports based on research undertaken by INASP, and culminating in recommendations for our community. They are all available free on the INASP website (see www.inasp.info/pubs)

1. (July 2003) Optimising Internet Bandwidth in Developing Country Higher Education

2. (February 2004) Empowering Youth and Connecting Schools: Lessons from the SchoolNet Namibia Approach

3. (July 2004) The Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in African Public Library Services

4. (February 2005) PERI Review 2001–2004: Executive Summary

5. (March 2005) Towards the Digital Library in Africa

6. (July 2005) Journal Access Programmes in African University Libraries. In 2003, INASP carried out a survey of the journal access programmes that were being used in universities in Africa. The survey results formed a background document for two follow-up roundtables (in November 2003 and October 2004) between representatives of African universities, programme providers and publishers. The roundtables were enabled by the Association of Commonwealth Universities and INASP. This Infobrief describes the key outcomes and recommendations of these three activities.

Human Genomics – free online access for researchers in the developing world

A bimonthly journal dedicated to providing a forum for the publication of primary research and reviews relating to the application of genomic research in drug discovery and medicine. For more information on the journal see www.henrystewart.com/journals/hg 

For more information, and registration, please contact Liz Caldwell:

The next INASP Newsletter will be published in November 2005 
and will be a themed issue on the subject of digital libraries.
If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editor at the Oxford address.
Contributions must be received by 1 September 2005
.


International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications
  Website: www.inasp.info
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